NMEC 15 ROUNDUP
◆ Counterfeit – plasma torch consumables ◆ Warning on tow bar corrosion ◆ End of first chapter of industrial robot era
The Maintenance Engineering Society of NZ’s decision to take the SKF National Maintenance Engineering Conference to Hamilton’s Claudelands Showgrounds has proved a success for delegates and exhibitors alike. Feedback from the 50 exhibitors and 200 total attendees at the November event ranged from “Awesome!” to “We will be back next year!”
The decision to step the conference up to the next level was not taken lightly, requiring a significant commitment in cost and resources as well as further evolution of the management structures. According to Event Director Craig Carlyle, “When you are standing still, you are going backwards. If we want to strive to deliver the best networking event for maintenance engineers, we need to deliver more for them to take in, work harder to inspire them and continue to ensure that cost is never a barrier to participation.”
At MESNZ committee level the non-profit society had to consider how the conference fits in with its objectives and activities, all aligned with networking maintenance engineers together to learn and leverage from their collective experience. “MESNZ’s commitment to the National Maintenance Engineering Conference is a long term view which included underwriting the first year at this world class venue. Major supporters SKF understand what MESNZ is trying to achieve and stepped up to the plate with funding for not only the National Conference, but also the Network Evening Series,” Carlyle added.
From the very first view of the new Exhibition Hall jampacked with engineering solutions galore, to the pre-conference activities and the conference itself, the MESNZ team provided an international quality event without losing the personal Kiwi touch that engineers value. The show kicked off even before most delegates had arrived, with a bevy of pre-conference activities. The contiguous Conference Training Village hosted sessions on health and safety management and engineering materials before the free Public Trade Expo opened its doors for a short afternoon session. This opportunity for the general public to view the Exhibition Hall was well supported this year with many exhibitors, grabbing the opportunity to invite their local customers.
With the Public Trade Expo in full swing, conference delegates who had arrived early for the main event were bussed to ABB’s Hamilton service facility. This is the second time ABB has opened its doors to MESNZ and the opportunity proved just as popular the second time judging from the feedback.
The travellers arrived back just in time for the pre-conference “Ice-breaker” where the Exhibition Hall doors are closed to the public and the drinks trolley follows the crowd around as each exhibitor introduces himself. This light-hearted event helped to settle everyone in and set the tone for the following two days of intensive networking.
The National Maintenance Conference proper began with an introduction from Craig Carlyle, who rounded out on the past years developments and implored the delegates to look, learn, listen and take the inspiration back to their workplaces.
The conference papers stretched over two days covering topics relevant to maintenance management and engineering. From corrosion and steam reticulation to dealing with counterfeit materials and shutdown planning, a wide raft of topics requested by popular demand were addressed by international and local experts. The dialogue on some topics continued well after each session as delegates debated the finer points.
Slotted into Day 1 was the presentation of engineering awards and the MESNZ AGM. Bill Buckley was on hand, giving delegates a short update on the work of Buckley Systems worldwide before presenting Ryan Stewart with the 2015 MESNZ Bill Buckley Engineering Scholarship.
2015 also saw the inaugural revival of the Stuart Tolhurst Trophy for the apprentice of the year. Competenz came on board to support the trophy and were on hand to present Hawke’s Bays’ Marlene Harmer with the award. Special mention also went to co-finalist Benjamin Peffer who provided stiff competition for the final decision.
The society AGM saw a number of new hands coming on board with some incumbents taking back room roles. John Condron, Kevin Ingles and Stewart Hewson were welcomed on board to a team chaired by Barry Robinson.
Meanwhile, the intensity of proceedings demanded a light hearted break-out and in the tradition of NMEC, 2015 the team once again provided mirth and memories with the running of the DEMM 100 trolley derby. Staged in the Exhibition Hall, the event featured sponsored trolleys provided by MESNZ, Glenn Inksters’ Targa rally car, f lag girls, Racing Ray Williams and even a cameo return from The Stig! The 13 teams had to assemble the trolleys, decorate them and then race them in a series of gruelling challenges. A great night of harmless fun and a few bevvies was enjoyed by all before heading into the final day’s proceedings.
The presentations, discussions and interaction continued at breakneck speed on Day 2 with delegates splitting their time between the Exhibition Hall and conference Plenum. Then suddenly, as quickly as it began, the 2015 SKF National Maintenance Conference was over and delegates were heading for the door, praising the event and vowing to return to Claudelands in November 2016.
Demm 100 Trolley Derby.